Penne Pasta With Asparagus, Baby Spinach And Roasted Walnuts

A Pound Of Penne Pasta

1/2 Cup Of Chopped Walnuts

A Pound Of Fresh Asparagus

12 Ounces Of Fresh Baby Spinach

Two Minced Garlic Cloves

The Juice Of 1/2 Lemon

1/2 Cup And Two Tablespoons Of Olive Oil

Two Teaspoons Of Anchovy Paste

1/2 Teaspoon Of Sea Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Of Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat the oven to 310 degrees.

Place the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Roast the walnuts in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Set the walnuts aside and let them cool.

Trim the asparagus spears by cutting about one inch of the bottoms off. Discard the cut bottoms. After trimming the spears, cut them into about one inch pieces. Rinse the asparagus spears with cold water in a colander. Set the asparagus aside.

Into a large pasta bowl, add the sea salt, the garlic cloves, the black pepper, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Mash the garlic with a fork to form a paste. Add the anchovy paste. Mash again. Add the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture is well blended. While whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Continue to whisk until the dressing is well blended and thickens slightly. Taste and add more sea salt and/or pepper, if desired.

Cook the penne pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water according to the package instructions. Add the asparagus pieces right before the last five minutes of the pasta cooking time. Drain the cooked pasta and the cooked asparagus well in a colander.

Add the pasta and the asparagus to the pasta bowl with the dressing. Add the baby spinach and gently begin tossing all of the ingredients with the dressing. The heat of the cooked pasta will wilt the spinach. Continue to mix until the spinach has wilted and all of the ingredients are coated with the dressing. To finish the dish, add two tablespoons of olive oil and mix again. Add the roasted walnuts on top of the pasta and serve with grated cheese.